Tag Archives: Designers

Mother Knows Best


Triggered by the lyrics of a pop song, I asked the boys today, “Would it bother you if I didn’t like your girlfriend?” Each – 19, 15 and 12 – replied, “I dunno.” The middle added, “It would depend on how close you lived.” France, I think, suddenly seemed like a good idea.

I’d certainly consider myself lucky if we could collaborate on any project as lovely as Miles Redd’s redecoration of his parents’ home.  I hope you’ve seen the story in this month’s House Beautiful.  I have to admit, it left me wanting more.  Miles to the rescue.  Outtakes are on his Instagram feed here.  Do hop on over and follow along.

Image, House Beautiful, February 2016; photography Peter Murdock; produced by Dayle Wood.

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Couturier Details

My oldest son is a senior in high school and we’ve spent a good little bit of time this year working on college applications.  He wants to be an architect, and even as we have sat across from deans and talked to people who work in the field who tell him about the hours and the money, he is undeterred.

“Don’t do it because you think I want you to,” I told him.  He assured me he is not, but I worried.

As he was putting together his portfolio, I watched as he scanned and uploaded.  (I was encouraged, too, that all the schools to which he applied preferred hand drawings to CAD.)

Generally, he draws elevations and then corresponding floor plans.  Sometimes, he includes furniture designs.  I can’t pretend that I would be able to evaluate a portfolio or that I am in any way unbiased, but one “project” caught my eye.

“Have you been in a house like this?” I asked him, holding out a piece of notebook paper, the edge ruffled where it had been torn from the spiral. The penciled marks were dark and sure.

He looked up at me from the bamboo chair at my wicker desk, so clearly a man in a woman’s spot.

“No.  I dream about being in buildings and then I get up in the night and draw them.” He looked back to the computer screen to check the progress of his upload.  “Do you do that?”

I looked back to the drawing in my hand, noticing the faint lines that had been erased to adjust the width of the garage and the seat height of a chair.  “No.  I do not do that.”

Many creative people find their passion at a young age.  Robert Couturier recounts in his book how he developed “personal relationships” with antiques growing up in his home in France.  He became a decorator against his grandmother’s wishes. (“You weren’t supposed to be somebody who was going to work for somebody else,” he recalls.) I’ve always admired Couturier for his combination of classic design and fearless incorporation of modern art, lighting and furniture.  He plays with scale and color in a way that always inspires me.  Couturier forces me to open my mind.

His new book, Robert Couturier: Designing Paradises,  contains a thorough catalogue of his house and many favorite projects.  You can find it here.

All images courtesy of Rizzoli International; images Tim Street-Porter.

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Too, Too

Before the holidays, the boys had trouble coming up with things that they wanted for Christmas.

This generated equal parts relief and concern.  I was relieved that they were not greedy, and concerned that this might be because they have too much already.  Concerned, also, as I wanted to get them a few things – nothing extravagant – but something personal and festive.

Almost coincidentally, they each ended up with a piece of art and something silly for his room.  It’s what I want to buy, of course – things for their rooms – rather than electronics or soccer jerseys.  But no one knows more than I how difficult it can be to give something personal.  (It’s a contradiction, in fact, isn’t it?)

For this reason they are happier than their grandparents want them to be receiving cash and gift cards.  They’d rather buy what they want themselves.  If you have a little bit of that in you as well, you might want to spend your holiday stash on Heart and Home: Rooms that Tell Stories.  The homes that are featured are highly personal and beautifully curated.  Seeing these homes makes you think you know their inhabitants a little better; reading the text confirms this is so.

If you ended up with a little extra jingle – or feel you simply deserve a self-indulgent treat – you can find Heart and Home; Rooms that Tell Stories here.

Images, top, the home of Ray Azoulay, photography Laura Hull; following two, the home of Kate Hume, photography Frans van der Heyden; bottom, the Miami home of Gene Meyer and Frank de Biasi, photography Mark Roskams. 

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MR in KC

I have been…distracted.  Distracted by a handsome, charming, creative man who came to town at my request.  My copy of Miles Redd’s The Big Book of Chic is always nearby, but for the last six months or so it has lived on my desk and in my bag and on the front seat of my car as we planned a fundraising luncheon at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art for which he was the guest speaker.

We had fun.  You will not be surprised that Mr. Redd was a delight and adored by everyone who crossed his path.  “He’s so nice.” “He’s so unpretentious.” Which I knew already.  Miles’s presentation was a visual delight and he was, no surprise, entertaining and engaging.  If there is a run on taxi cab yellow paint this week – and a brightening of living rooms across the city – we will know why.

I have loads of people to thank and will be doing that this week, but a special shout-out here to designer Michele Boeckholt and artist Lee Ernst, both of the Nelson staff, who worked to create a remarkable design for this event starting with the invitation pictured above. You might have seen it on Miles’s Instagram already, but if not you can see it here.

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The Perfect Place

Mary Randolph Carter and I sort of met on the internet. I’d received a review copy of her book, A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of a Misspent Life, loved it and wrote about it.  She wrote me back.

We’ve exchanged a few emails since then.  It was in an email that I asked her to pass along a compliment to Joan Osofsky for whom Carter had written the forward for You Should Love Where You Live.  I told Carter that her short piece of writing at the beginning of this very good book made me think that if circumstances were different that she and I would be friends.

She emailed me back and said, “The circumstances are right and we are friends.” So I should not have been surprised when I asked her recently if she wanted to have coffee when I was in New York and she emailed back, “Why don’t we have coffee at my apartment?”
Should not have been surprised because no one feels more than I do that there is often an immediate connection between people and sometimes things.  Should not have been surprised when she greeted me with a hug and invited me to sit at her kitchen table and have a bagel with her husband, Howard.  

Should not have been surprised as this is exactly how I would have welcomed her here given the chance.  And just as she did, I would walk her around the house and show her all the crazy things that make sense to nearly no one else that she would surely understand.

I know that she would, as that is what she has done with the homes of some very personal collectors in her new book, Never Stop to Think…Do I Have a Place for This? The best thing about Carter’s books is that they tell a rich story of people, and ultimately it is the passion of the collector that gives the collection its life.

You can find links for Never Stop to Think… Do I Have a Place for This? here.

Never Stop to Think…Do I Have a Place for This? by Mary Randolph Carter, Rizzoli New York, 2014.  Photography, Carter Berg.

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